From 500 Pounds to a 500 Pound Deadlift

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2My name is Mike, I am 31 years old and I have lost over 100 lbs…twice.

Growing up I was always a big kid, but by the time I was going into my senior year of high school, I found myself at 300 lbs. My dad had been giving me a hard time about it for quite some time, a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, but he was right. As a lifelong baseball player, I was in danger of getting cut from the high school team due to my weight, despite having been on a club team since the age of twelve and having played all over the country, in Mexico, and in the AAU junior Olympics as a sixteen year old.

My dad convinced me that I should join the high school wrestling team as a way to lose weight. They were eager to have me even though I was twenty five pounds too heavy for the heaviest weight class since heavy weights, the 215 lb and 275 lb weight classes, were hard to come by. This was the most physically demanding thing I had ever done, especially combined with the heavy dieting required to make weight. The diet was your standard calorie restriction; everything is fine in moderation fare. I spent a year and a half absolutely miserable, hungry, tired, and sore all the time, but at the end of it I was weighing about 185, able to do chin-ups for the first time ever, and headed to college in 2002 a new person. It was at this point that I made a fatal mistake; I figured that I had fixed my problem and that now I could rejoin society and eat like a “normal” person.

College is an interesting place when it comes to food, there is tons of it and it is all basically free. I knew I did not want to overdo things, I had heard about the freshman forty. So I figured I would avoid the all you can eat dinner and just go to sleep early to avoid dealing with the hunger. Hunger at this point was a big issue for me since after losing the original weight I was literally hungry all the time. It was just a matter of degree. After meals it went to a manageable level and if I went too long without eating I would get dizzy and very irritable. I was going to the gym regularly and running several times a week in sweats just like I had learned to do in wrestling.

For a while things were going well, I did not know anybody and this type of self imposed isolation fit well with my introverted nature. However, slowly I met people, made friends, and got a girlfriend (my future wife). This did not mesh well with spending every free second either exercising, running, or sleeping, and eventually I started running less and eating dinner for social reasons. I put on a little weight, but in general I was happier and healthier. It was at about this point that I was involved in an auto accident, and for the better part of six months was in almost constant back pain. I stopped running and going to the gym altogether, and by the time my back was feeling better I had gotten used to spending all that time with my girlfriend and other friends. This began a slow climb in weight over the next six or seven years.

My job during and after college involved long hours in the car and almost no sleep on weekends. I ate a lot of fast food; coffee will only keep you awake in the car up to a certain point and eventually I figured out that I could use food to stay awake as well.

mike h-1

By 2009 I was an absolute wreck, I weighed right around 500 lbs, simple things like tying my shoes or getting in and out of my car were serious physical activities that required several minutes to catch my breath. A normal solid BM was a very rare thing, the first 20 minutes after waking every morning involved excruciating heel and arch pain in both feet, and I had GERD like symptoms on a daily basis. I walked extremely slowly and would trip, stumble, and fall frequently. However, the worst thing by far was the depression. I was an absolutely miserable person to be around, constantly moody, sad and despondent. I quite frankly don’t know how I did not end up killing myself and can only think that it had to have been the support of my fiancé, otherwise I would have.

mike h-2It was around this time that I started to realize what I had done to myself and started trying to make changes for the better. Sadly, I could not even weigh myself since our scale’s limit was 400 lbs. At one point a friend and I figured out that by placing two scales together with a cutting board on top of them, then trying to hold still long enough to get both numbers and adding them together gave a fairly accurate weight. I started trying to use portion control and exercise to lose weight, but both were difficult and involved a lot of starting and stopping. For example, when I first tried bench pressing I found that I could not get back up off the bench without help. I used what I knew, which was bodybuilding style exercise and the standard low fat “healthy” whole grains diet. It was slow going but I did see some progress and I started scouring the internet for advice. I stumbled onto and used that to make my exercise infinitely more effective. I also came across quite a bit of diet advice and when searching for more information about those diets I was constantly coming across Mark’s Daily Apple. In May 2011, shortly after getting married (weighing 414 lbs), I got a copy of The Primal Blueprint.

mike h-3

The Primal Blueprint was a watershed moment for me; it just made so much sense. My wife and I adopted a Primal Blueprint diet almost immediately and I got myself my first pair of five fingers. Life without bread was difficult at first, but that faded quickly. This also seemed to clear up the BM and GERD problems within about three months. I started to feel a lot better pretty quickly, my lifts and weight loss both starting improving much more rapidly.

mike h-5It is now 2015, I have dropped over 20 inches off my waist, lost four shirt sizes (6XL to 2XL) and am weighing in at 270 lbs, and I can do chin ups again! Most importantly, all of my previous ailments are gone and I am able to run and play with my daughter, born May, 2012.

The biggest change was a rediscovery of satiety, I found that eating Primally allowed me to eat reasonably and feel full. Additionally, I found I could miss meals and not even notice it, which was unheard of for me. I think this is the most important difference when comparing Primal to SAD, and it is the thing that I try to share with anyone who will listen. Having lost 100 lbs two different ways, I can tell you that doing it without constant unbearable hunger makes the process a lot more manageable.

When I drug myself out of the denial I had been living in and came to terms with what a horrible mistake I had made, I was dreading the fact that I was going to have to lose significant weight all over again. I knew from past experience how little I got to eat to lose weight and how hungry I was the last time I did it. When I compare that to how much I eat currently and how hungry I got even cutting back a little I felt very daunted. If I had not found The Primal Blueprint when I did I would certainly be nowhere near where I am now in terms of both my physical and mental health. I still probably have a few pounds to lose, but in August 2014, I reached a big psychological milestone when I finally reached a 500 lb dead lift, my old top body weight, and I owe so much of it to the decision to go Primal two and a half years ago.

Since starting my Primal journey my wife and I now have two children, ages 3 years and 5 months. I look back on what I was and find it hard to imagine that person was me. I keep a couple pictures of myself at my heaviest where I can see them and they can act as inspiration. I look at the person in those pictures and I know there is no way that person would have been able to be the type of father to my children that they need. Thank you so much for helping me make the changes I needed to make to become that father.


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42 thoughts on “From 500 Pounds to a 500 Pound Deadlift”

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  1. Wow! And you look like your still quite young so you can enjoy many more years of being healthy and fit. I hope so – it looks like you have a lot to live for!

  2. Inspiring. I’m currently at the beginning of my paleo discovery. I topped out at 399.5. I lost 80 lbs 2 years ago on the old restrictive diet. I got married and put the weight right back on. I topped out this year at 38p and had enough. Went right back on the diet I knew, and lost some, but found paleo recently and have kept losing weight. I am rarely truley hungry; spending more time in the kitchen cooking and experimenting with my wife, which is one of things that we bonded over in the first place. It’d allowed me to feel energized and I control and I am anticipating see the scale read 299 for the first time in 15 years in a week or so. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s encouraging to hear your journey and know that I can get there too! Cheers

    1. Best of luck to you Dave. Those new numbers are very motivating!!

    2. It’s that “experimenting with your wife” that’ll really burn the calories! ; )

  3. “Thank you so much for helping me make the changes I needed to make to become that father.”

    You spent most of your article describing how much you’ve healed & changed, only to end off giving thanks for this…*tears up*

  4. Mike, that’s awesome. Chin ups at 270 lbs, and being able to deadlift 500 pounds! All I can say is wow. Just incredible. You are a beast! 🙂

  5. Mike, I am so happy for you and your lovely family! Thank you for sharing.

  6. A chinup at 270lbs is awesome! I consider myself to be pretty strong, and at 170lbs, I know I’m far from capable of doing a chinup with 100lbs on a weight belt. Very impressive by all standards

  7. Mike, great story! Thanks for sharing. I too went from a pretty successful high school and college wrestler, at heavyweight (275 pounds) to weighing over 400 pounds after I graduated college. I am finally down to my college wrestling weight of 275 and feel so much better. I can finally do pull ups and dead lift over my old bodyweight too. So many similarities in our stories. May we both continue to have future success. Would love to keep hearing from you.

  8. BRAVO! Well done, and your kids will be able to look forward to a VERY healthy lifestyle!! Good on yer, dad! (And mom…)

  9. Wow, wow and more wow! You are truly inspirational! I’m so glad that you found the Primal Blueprint and were able to lose the weight you needed to without all of the deprivation and angst. Congratulations!

    1. My brother was just short of 500 pounds when he passed away years ago before existed. We were able to weigh him on a balance scale ( a doctors scale) by me getting on the scale and using a clamp on the balance part and balance it to zero with me on it. Then he would get on and say it said 275. We added me weight of 125 for a total of 400. Just saying this in case some one needs to weigh in more than a scale is set to do.

  10. You should be proud of yourself, what an amazing transformation.

    This type of triumph leaves me sad for the millions that just don’t know and even sadder for those that won’t listen! These days, having been one myself I feel the same pity on sugar addicts that I’d feel for a child introduced to crack cocaine by the parents!

  11. Congratulations on your success! Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

  12. Whoa man, whoa! Talk about a progression, and what a road you’ve been on. I commend you for staying strong through such a tough portion of your life and not giving up. You’re an inspiration!

  13. Totally inspiring…time to get back on the primal bus for me…thanks for the reminder! Awesome achievement with the pull ups…blew me away!

  14. kudos to you Mike. Thank you for your story, being the best Dad you can be for your kids is one of the most honorable goals a man can aspire to.

  15. Mike, you endured so much and I am impressed by how deeply you persevered, even when beset by depression. I was especially moved by your ending that thanks to going primal you could become the kind of father you wanted to be.

  16. Wow, Mike, that is truly inspirational. I almost teared up at the thought of you bridging two scales with a cutting board. That’s the kind of determined attitude the world could use a lot more of! All I can say is GOOD FOR YOU, and you’re so young you have a whole lifetime ahead to enjoy and watch your children grow. (I got to meet the motivational Mark S at the Boulder Whole Foods today, he was signing autographs and wearing his five fingers. Since I already owned his book and cookbook, he kindly autographed the only piece of paper that I had on me, which was the back of a check, which I’ll tape into my Primal Blueprint book at home. haha.)

  17. Magnificent story. By looking after yourself, you are giving your kids the best gift any kid needs – healthy parents and a healthy lifestyle. Awesome!

  18. Congratulations, Mike! You look great, and I’m sure you feel good too! Thanks for sharing your amazing story. Keep it up!

  19. Great job Mike!

    What an adorable baby!!! How do you get anything done with that cutie-pie in the mix? I remember those days, I learned how to chop an onion holding the baby and none of us getting the fumes in our eyes. I remember thinking “who would have thought I could do that”.

  20. Brilliant job. 500 pounds is huge and must have been very difficult to fight your weight enough to exercise. Glad you found a way to nullify that massive appetite and you’re doing so well now. Is your aim to stay big & strong, or do you want to lose more?

  21. Mike, your story is so inspiring! Keep it up, man. I am brand new to Primal, and love to hear how you’ve been successful with this.

  22. The hunger, right? Why would anyone want to live with the hunger? I remember that I used to get quite hungry, but not really what it was like other than urgent. Now I fast two days of the week without a significant problem.

    Great story, Mike — and you, too, Dave Grant! Thank you very much for sharing.

  23. Thanks so much for sharing your journey, Mike. I’m so happy that you discovered that you can lose weight without that gnawing hunger so many of us know from previous bouts of ‘dieting’. Hunger will kill anyone’s motivation in time, but with Paleo, it just doesn’t seem to be much of an issue–Congrats to you and your lovely family! 🙂

  24. This seriously brings tears to my eyes. So sweet to be able to hear about peoples’ journeys and see how far they’ve come. You’re amazing Mike!